Reducing Postharvest Loss and Improving Nutrition in Nigeria

Posted by on February 8th, 2017 | 0 Comments »

By: Roberta Lauretti-Bernard
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

The Geneva-based Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an international organization whose mission is to reduce global malnutrition. GAIN’s global programs build alliances that emphasize research and technical solutions to end malnutrition, including: Large Scale Food Fortification, Business Partnerships in Nutrition, Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition and Agriculture for Nutrition.

GAIN is a Consultative Partner of the Global Harvest Initiative; this story is featured on page 52 of GHI’s 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®).

Each year, malnutrition kills 3.1 million children under the age of five and leaves 161 million stunted, trapping generations in lives of poverty and unfulfilled potential. One of the leading causes of malnutrition is lack of access to nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables. Countries with high rates of malnutrition often also experience high rates of postharvest loss, meaning that nutrient-dense foods do not make it to the tables of the people who need them.

Nigeria is the world’s 16th largest producer of tomatoes, yet 50% of this nutrient-dense food never makes it to market due to postharvest loss. Photo credit: GAIN

GAIN recently developed the Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN) initiative which develops global and national alliances of public and private sector actors to address the loss and waste of nutritious foods. These alliances are driving research and funding for postharvest loss and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and technology to reduce food loss and waste.

PLAN Nigeria is the first national alliance, focusing on improving nutrition by strengthening the tomato value chain. In Nigeria, nearly 30 percent of children under the age of five are vitamin A deficient, a condition that can lead to blindness and increased risk of disease and premature death. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and Nigeria is the 16th largest producer of tomatoes in the world. But the tomato supply chain is underdeveloped and only half of the annual tomato harvest reaches the market.

In November 2016, PLAN Nigeria brought together 14 Nigerian cold chain businesses and a task force of industry leaders, financial institutions, government representatives and nutrition and food safety specialists. The purpose of the gathering was to “diagnose” the challenges and identify the opportunities to improve Nigeria’s cold chain efficiency and scale-up the operations to reduce postharvest losses of nutritious foods.

The session revealed many notable difficulties that these businesses confront. One of the major constraints faced by Nigerian cold chain companies is the lack of a reliable refrigerated transportation from the North to the South of the country. Businesses stated that their government must invest in road infrastructure to further develop the country’s major fresh fruit and vegetable corridor, which runs from Lagos to Kano to JIbiya. This would significantly reduce the likelihood of bruising, spoiling and other damage.

The PLAN Nigeria Team is working with traders, distributors and retailers to build their capacity and expertise to reduce postharvest losses. The technical assistance focuses on logistics operations, buying/maintaining long haul cooling trucks, warehouse design and construction, food safety procedures, and business models for renting/owning crates. Photo credit: GAIN

Companies that participated in the diagnostic session were screened by the task force in areas such as credit history, business experience, market position, and financial and supply chain needs. Those that qualified are receiving training and skills development, as well as financial investments from banks that participate in the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

Based on the keen interest demonstrated by PLAN’s industry partners and investors, GAIN looks to Indonesia, Ethiopia and Kenya as opportunities for new alliances. As PLAN’s activities gear up, GAIN will bring this inclusive, scalable model to new regions to build nutritious food supply chain

To learn more about GAINs work to strengthen value chains, reduce postharvest waste and loss and improve nutrition, read Roberta’s blog Reducing Postharvest Losses and Malnutrition.


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